Telecommunications provides the first comparative description of a pivotal service industry in which deregulation, privatization, and globalization have shaped corporate strategies and structure, and altered the nature of work. A chapter is devoted to each of the countries discussed: the United States, England, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Norway, Mexico, and Korea. To facilitate comparisons, the authors use a common framework in analyzing changes and their implications for work and employment relations.
Most employees in telecommunications, both white-collar and blue-collar, are unionized, and that has highlighted the tension between downsizing and participatory employment strategies. The authors describe adjustment paths adopted in the Anglo-Saxon countries which emphasize a technology- and market-driven approach, in contrast to Japan and several European countries where labor and social pressures have mediated the course and consequences of industrial adjustment. The strategic approach in Korea and Mexico is again different, relying on the state to set the pace and terms of change. The United States and United Kingdom have emerged as pattern leaders in the international telecommunications industry through their aggressive deregulation and restructuring. While downsizing has devastated employee morale, experiments in alternative solutions based on union and employee participation are simultaneously underway.